Sunday, September 11, 2016

Egypt says US accountable for rampant global terrorism

It has been 15 years since the world was terrified by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the US that killed nearly 3,000 people, yet its wrongful policy thereafter led to the rampant global terrorism, Egyptian experts warned.

It's been 15 years and terrorism is still on the rise, yet terror groups are eventually destined to come to an end, said Egyptian experts on Islamist groups.

Two years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States "invaded" Iraq with a Western nod in 2003 to "free" the country from its authoritarian leader Saddam Hussein.

However, the Arab country sank in civil conflicts and later witnessed the rise of a new regional terrorist group besides Al-Qaeda, namely the Islamic State (IS), which claimed responsibility for a number of regional and cross-border attacks.

In a video posted Friday, Al-Qaeda's Egyptian-born leader Ayman al-Zawahiri threatened that Sept. 11 attacks could be repeated a thousand times "as long as Washington crimes continue against Muslims."

Experts of Islamist groups' affairs believe that injustice, corruption, poverty and Western interference in the Middle East region, especially in the Arab world, are main reasons for the rise of terrorism and that the solution lies in justice and development.

"Terrorism is the legitimate son of corruption and the retreat of national state in the Arab world," said Ahmed Baan, a researcher of Islamist groups' affairs at Nile Center for Strategic Studies.

He argued that the lack of justice, freedom and luxury in the region created a suitable atmosphere for self-proclaimed Islamist groups to attract their followers by recalling the model of Islamic caliphate as an example of the union, power and rise of Muslims.

Since the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, it appeared that their Islamist approach was mainly educational before the group turns to seek rule through confrontation with the state or via political work.

"With the development of the situation in Afghanistan, other terrorist groups appeared, the most powerful was Al-Qaeda in 1988 that spearheaded jihadist activities and whose biggest operation was Sept. 11," Baan told Xinhua.

Al-Qaeda believed that regimes in the Arab and Islamic worlds blindly followed the United States and saw that the only way to resolve that dilemma was to hit the world's big power real hard.

"Eventually, the IS organization started to rise and move from the stage of terrorizing people to the control of some areas in Iraq and Syria and finally announce a caliphate state," said the expert.

He stressed that all these groups are destined to come to an end as many groups appeared throughout history and fought against the state but they all failed in the end.

Baan referred the recent growing terror in the region to the chaotic Arab Spring that was supported by terrorist groups, although the vision of these groups is different from the Arab Spring vision that calls for freedom and democracy.

A few years ago, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem Supporters) militant group appeared in Egypt's turmoil-stricken North Sinai province and later changed its name to "Sinai State" and declared loyalty to the IS.

It claimed responsibility for most anti-government attacks in Egypt and also for the Russian plane crash in Sinai that killed over 200 in October last year.

Experts believe that terrorist groups take the Palestinian cause as a pretext to justify their presence although they did nothing to the Palestinian cause, stressing that resolving the issue could be a big step forward in combating terrorism.

Ali Bakr, a researcher of Islamist groups' affairs at state-run Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, argued that the Western influence in the Arab world that led to the occupation of Palestine caused some to believe that politics don't work and the return to powerful, regional Islamic caliphate is the only solution.

"There are also economic reasons for the rise of terrorism, because spreading poverty and ignorance represent a suitable environment for planting and nurturing extremist thoughts," Bakr told Xinhua, noting insufficient education and the weakness of religious institutions to face extremist thought are among the reasons for rising terrorism.

"The West should be more unbiased and fairer in dealing with Arab issues, such as the Palestinian issue, because unfair and biased policies could be used by extremists as justification for spreading the ideology of violence and bloodshed, the researcher recommended as one of the means for fighting terrorism.

He added that economic development is another main tool "as development preoccupies people with work and urges them to preserve the development they have achieved," noting that regimes should also allow some space for freedom to their citizens "for repression is promoted by extremists as war against Islam."

Most leaders of terrorist groups are highly educated, including former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was born to a Saudi billionaire and current leader Al-Zawahiri who received his master's degree in surgery from Egypt's Cairo University.

Many experts believe that developing and improving the educational system and promoting moderate and tolerant Islamic principles are necessary to spread the principles of co-existence regardless of different religions or ideologies.

They also pin hope on Al-Azhar, the most prestigious institution for Sunni Muslims in Egypt and the Muslim world, to develop its curricula to be able to promote tolerance and create generations safeguarded against extremist ideologies by knowledge and awareness.

"Al-Azhar seeks to refine and correct the misleading extremist thoughts of terrorist groups while the latter accuse Al-Azhar of disbelief," said Abdel-Maqsoud al-Basha, head of civilization department at Cairo-based Al-Azhar University and member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

He cited a recent incident when Egypt's former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, who led one of the country's top religious authorities, survived an assassination attempt in August due to his support of Egypt's current military-oriented leadership, its anti-Brotherhood crackdown and anti-terror war.

The professor continued that the ideological gap blocks means of communication between Al-Azhar scholars and extremists, noting extremists rely on misinterpretations of some verses from the Quran to justify their violence while Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and justice.

"It's easier to reason and argue with those who think something wrong than those who hold a strong belief in something wrong," he said.

Al-Basha lamented that Al-Azhar scholars do not get enough media space to spread their authentic, moderate opinions, calling for more presence of Al-Azhar in the media through scholars recommended only by Al-Azhar to properly and professionally address Islamic thoughts and ideologies.

"Still, Al-Azhar expresses its official opinions on extremist misleading thoughts and refutes them on its official websites as references for whoever seeks the truth," the professor told Xinhua.

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